Many Union Ministers came out in support of Republic TV editor and senior journalist Arnab Goswami after his arrest on Wednesday morning by the Mumbai Police .
Home Minister Amit Shah called the incident a “misuse of state power.” In a tweet, he said, “Congress and its allies have shamed democracy once again. Blatant misuse of state power against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami is an attack on individual freedom and the fourth pillar of democracy. It reminds us of the Emergency. This attack on free press must be and WILL BE OPPOSED."
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar and several others, in quick succession, put out tweets comparing his arrest to the 19-month long Emergency imposed by former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Ms. Sitharaman, in a series of tweets, questioned both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi. She said, “Does the President @INCIndia #SoniaGandhi approve of this? Is she happy to carry the #Emergency baggage? Does the President-in-line @RahulGandhi think this is the new governance model he supports? Having armed policemen harassing the children of those they have a problem with?”
Mr. Javadekar blamed the Gandhis, saying the “fascist and Emergency mindset” was on display in Maharashtra.
Shameful, says Nadda
BJP president J.P. Nadda accused the Congress leadership of trying to silence those who did not agree with them.
“Every person who believes in a free press and freedom of expression is furious at the Maharashtra Government’s bullying and harassment of Arnab Goswami. This is yet another instance of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi-directed antic of silencing those who disagree with them. Shameful!”, he wrote in a tweet.
He added in another tweet that the country had not forgiven Indira Gandhi for imposing the Emergency as well as former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for “his assault on press freedom”.
“... And now, India will again punish Sonia-Rahul Gandhi for their brazen and intimidating use of state power to get equal with journalists”, he said.
Congress hits out at BJP
The Congress hit out at the BJP for what it called “selective outrage” by the Union Ministers. The party said the ‘law will take its own course’ and no ‘innocent person will be punished’. “I am absolutely certain that wherever the Congress is in power or in alliance, people will not be punished if they are absolutely innocent. I also believe that the law will take its own course in this case. We don't interfere with institutions”, party spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said at a press conference when asked to comment on the arrest.
“I am shocked at the selective outrage of the BJP. Where were they when independent and fearless journalists were arrested? Where were they Prashant Kanojia was arrested, where were they when sedition charges were imposed against journalist Supriya Sharma for showing pathetic state of affairs in Varanasi? When a journalist reported on a PPE scam in Uttar Pradesh, an FIR is lodged against him instead of probing the scam?”, she said.
Editors Guild ‘shocked’
The Editors Guild of India, in a short statement, said it was shocked to learn about Mr. Goswami’s arrest.
“We condemn the sudden arrest and find it extremely distressing”, the Guild noted. It called upon Maharashtra Chief Minister Udhav Thackeray to ensure that Mr. Goswami is treated fairly and state power is not used against critical reporting by the media.